Tony Becca: A New year of hope

first_imgThe New year is just a few days old, and despite all the problems in West Indies cricket – the abandoned tour of India; the defeats at the hands of Australia; Sri Lanka, and Australia again; the crisis facing the Board; and the fact that no West Indian made it into Test cricket’s Top Ten at the end of the year – we wish all those in the fraternity all the best for 2016. The only saving grace last year was the wonderful and thrilling victory at Kensington Oval, the one which handed the West Indies a draw against England and which filled every West Indian with excitement and with plenty hope. Although that hope ended only in wishful thinking, my wish, despite my feeling that things will remain the same, in spite of the huffing and puffing by the toothless CARICOM governments, is that the gloom of 2015 will be replaced by a little light in 2016. I love cricket, and I am passionate about Melbourne, Jamaica, and West Indies cricket. Indeed, most people, those who know me and know me well, especially my family, will say that I eat, sleep, and drink cricket. Last year, the West Indies brought down the curtain with an embarrassing and humiliating performance against Australia. They did nothing right. They were terrible in batting, bowling, and fielding. Indeed, with the exception of Darren Bravo, Kraigg Brathwaite, and a few others, they looked like novices. This year, however, the West Indies are scheduled to play one or two series, and based on results of the recent past, things are hardly likely to be any better. In fact, every year it has been the same. Despite the utterances about improvements and little gains, nothing has changed; nothing at all. Looking at the team, which, despite its weakness, includes a few questionable selections, looking at the management team, which allows inexperience and non-performing youngsters to speak on behalf of the team, and looking at the people who consistently talk glowingly about what to expect from the players despite defeat after defeat, it is easy to write off the players – especially as it appears that nothing is really being done to remedy the situation. Despite all the talk, the huge entourage surrounding the team on every tour, the money reportedly being spent on West Indies cricket, and the outreach in West Indies cricket, nothing is really happening. The West Indies need a system to develop their young players into productive players. They need to play the game regularly, to train regularly, and not only when it is ordered and supervised. They need people, good people, checking on them regularly, and not only to sympathise with them and to pat them on the back like nice guys whenever they fail. They need people, coaches or whoever, who will also say something or do something constructive at such times, which, at this time, is most times. COMMITTED PLAYERS The West Indies need to look also for players, good players, who are also proud people, committed people, and people who, although there is not one, respect the flag. And those kinds of players are necessary, very necessary. It makes no sense, or very little sense, to have the most talented players who, at the first sign of adversity, sulk and withdraw themselves from the game, sometimes, most times, affecting other players on the team. The West Indies need players who believe in one for all and all for one, and also players who, even though it is not true, believe, like a journalist, that he, or she, is as good as his, or her, last story. It is folly to fail, and fail, after one or two good performance and to stroll around the ground, to swagger, like the proverbial “cat’s pyjamas”. It is just as bad to treat one who has failed and failed after one or two good performances like royalty. My wish for 2016 is that these things will change. West Indies cricket has been through the good and the bad. It started promisingly, it had its watershed in 1950, it had its ups and downs, it became the best in the world, and now it is back at stage one. The return to the glory days, or near to them, must come back, hopefully, if not quickly. West Indies cricket basically has good, young players. They, however, need to commit themselves to the game and to the West Indies, to train hard and to play hard, and to remember who they are, where they are from, and that although it may not be the best in the world, although players from India, England, Australia earn more money than they do, those from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and South Africa are not. The West Indies players are paid what the West Indies can afford. It is as simple as that. My wish for the new year is that from all the few basically talented West Indies players some can be found with the class to carry West Indies cricket through these parlous times. The West Indies need players who can bat, bowl, field and know how to play the game. The West Indies need batsmen who can do more than reel off a pretty stroke here and there, bowlers who can really bowl and who can get good batsmen out, and fielders who can really field. My wish for this year is that the West Indies will see the light and realise that their cricketers are nowhere nearly as good as those of yesteryear, that their cricketers will also face that fact, that their cricketers play Test cricket two or three years too early in most cases, that our administrators will end their insularity, tighten up on West Indies cricket and make it stronger, and that they need to train and practice until they hear a voice say practice no more. West Indies cricket also needs to see less swagger in the cricketers, less cheerleaders, for whatever reason, among those who should guide, and among those guide technical development, and more people who can inspire and motivate rather than simply tell how to bat and bowl.last_img read more

Young South African in the US for science programme

first_imgLehlogonolo Msuma is representing South Africa at the Broadcom Masters (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars) International programme in the US for her research into marula seedlings.Lehlogonolo “Nolo” Msuma is in the US from 14 to 19 May to take part in the Broadcom Masters (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars) International programme. (Image: Bush Babies Environmental Education, Facebook)Compiled by Priya PitamberA young South African scientist is in the US participating in the Broadcom Masters (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars) International programme.Thirteen-year-old Lehlogonolo “Nolo” Msuma’s inquiring mind led her to question why there were only old marula trees in her community, in Phalaborwa in Limpopo.“We only know that big trees are being eaten by elephants, goats, cows and wanted to know [what] the small seedlings of marula were being eaten by; I found out that they were being eaten by rodents,” she told the national broadcaster, the SABC.“Marula trees, which are seeing a decline worldwide, are important for Nolo’s community because they provide fruit and are home to many birds as well as larger animals,” reads the Broadcom Masters Facebook page.Nolo is in Los Angeles from 14 to 19 May “for a week of fun and engaging hands-on science and engineering activities”.Research and findingsNolo said she found that the Bushbuck gabble and the Namaqua rock rat were eating the marula seedlings daily.In her project, she outlines various ways in which this can be curbed to allow the trees to grow.The fruit from the tree is used in many ways in her community: to ferment alcohol, and to make soap and jam.Nolo would like to become an environmental scientist because she believes South Africa can make positive contributions to global research.The programmeAccording to the Broadcom Masters International website, each delegate is chosen for “their excellence in science, engineering and leadership”.“They are rising stars who come together to represent their nations for this international exchange.”Participants come from Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Puerto Rico and many more countries.“There is a sense of urgency to inspire more young people to become the scientists and engineers of the future,” said Paula Golden, president of the Broadcom Foundation, speaking about the national leg of the programme in the US.“Our quality of life depends upon solving the grand challenges in health care, transportation, communication, environmental protection and sustainability.”About NoloNolo is a Grade 8 pupil at Gerson Ntjie High School and an ambassador for the Bush Babies Environmental Programme.School principal Vivian Kganyago said she hoped other students would follow in Nolo’s footsteps, despite the school not having a lab in which to work. “I hope Gerson will be known not only provincially, nationally but internationally,” she said.See Nolo speak ahead of her departure to the US:Other than an interest in environmental science, she “enjoys reading, writing poetry, singing, and researching the latest fashion trends”, reads the Broadcom Masters Facebook page.Sources: Broadcom Masters, SABCWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Notes on fall fertilization: P and K

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Department of Crop SciencesWith harvest almost complete after another year with high to very high yields, it’s time to review some basics of fall fertilization. Neither fertilizer nor grain prices are historically high, so there’s reason to be aware of costs while making sure to cover the nutrient basics.P and KFall application of the dry fertilizer materials typically used to supply P and K to the next year’s (or next two years’) crops is normal practice, although there has been some moving of P and K applications to the spring. That’s not a problem with timing—even though P and K are relatively immobile in the soil, applying them as surface broadcast well in advance of crop emergence tends to work well. But fall soil conditions are often better for driving application equipment over fields, and many producers don’t want to add fertilizer application to the list of spring tasks. Most P and K fertilizers are broadcast, but some now apply these materials as bands placed into the soil, in some cases beneath where rows will be planted. Research has shown limited if any yield response to banding P and K compared to broadcasting, especially on productive soils with adequate P and K test levels already present. An advantage to placing P into the soil is that it is less prone to running off with rainfall. But this requires special equipment, and application of dry fertilizer in bands is substantially slower and more costly than broadcast application.While most P and K fertilizer is applied to soybean stubble in preparation for corn the next year and then soybean the year after that, we have seen some claims recently that soybean “needs its own P and K” and that it shouldn’t have to “settle” for the P and K “left over” from the corn crop. In all but very low-testing soils, where crop roots can have trouble reaching enough P and K as they grow into the soil, research has failed to show a benefit to annual applications of P and K, at least in soils such as those in Illinois. We know for certain that it costs more to apply nutrients every year than only once in two years. There have also been claims that soils tie up P and K over time after they are applied, such that “freshly-applied” nutrients are more available to plants. But applying amounts of P and K that crops remove tends to keep soil test levels fairly constant, suggesting that any tieup of P and K is not a permanent “loss” of these nutrients; as long as soil test levels are adequate, both crops get enough even if their roots don’t encounter fertilizer granules as they grow.A sound approach to determining rates for P and K is to add up the amount removed over the last two years (assuming a biennial application) and to apply that amount in preparation for the next two years. A year ago in a Bulletin article I reported the results from a recent NREC-funded grain nutrient sampling project in Illinois. We set grain removal levels as the values below which 75% of samples fell, so a little higher than the average amounts of nutrients we found in the grain samples. In some 2,100 grain samples of both corn and soybeans, we found removal levels of 0.37 lb. P2O5 and 0.24 lb. K2O per bushel of corn grain, and 0.75 lb. P2O5 and 1.17 lb. K2O per bushel of soybean grain. These are 10 to 15% lower than previous “book values” used in Illinois and many other states, and are in line with levels reported by Iowa State University scientists.Even with slightly lower P and K removal levels than we have used in the past, high yields mean removal of a lot of nutrients from fields. In a field that produced 240 bushels of corn in 2017 and 75 bushels of soybean in 2018, we calculate that harvested grain over the last two years removed 0.37 x 240 + 0.75 x 75 = 145 pounds P2O5 and 0.28 x 240 + 1.17 x 75 = 155 pounds K2O per acre. At current estimated retail prices of $520 per ton for DAP and $370 per ton for potash, the fertilizer to replace these amounts would cost about $123 per acre, not including the application cost.The still-sometimes-used “200-200” application (200 pounds DAP, or 92 pounds P2O5 and 200 pounds potash, or 120 pounds K2O) every other year was enough to keep soil test levels moving up when using such rates first became common. That’s because yield levels were much lower than in recent years; Illinois corn and soybean yields from 1961 through 1979 averaged 96 and 31 bushels per acre, respectively. Having applied rates exceed removal for decades in many fields is why soil test levels are as high as they are in such fields today. But using that amount of fertilizer at today’s yield levels will mean a steady drop in soil test values as more nutrients are removed than are replaced.Low crop prices often have some people wondering if they might cut back some on P and K in order to save money, presumably until crop prices are higher (or fertilizer prices are lower) in a year or two. Despite imaginative claims of “hidden hunger” and some overwrought interpretations of tissue testing levels, P and K deficiency symptoms are very rare in Illinois; we tend to see such symptoms mainly when soils dry out after planting and roots have trouble growing into soils enough to take up adequate P and K, even when soil test levels are high. Such symptoms are more common in compacted soils and in no-till fields, but we hardly ever see such symptoms when spring rainfall is normal.With adequate soil test levels of P and K in most fields and with crops that are good at extracting these nutrients, delaying the application of some or even all of the P or K for a year or even two years is likely to have little or no effect on the yield of the next crop(s). Still, nutrients removed by the most recent crops do need to be replaced, if not before the next crop or two then after that; higher soil test levels now provide more leeway. The real risk comes from allowing removal to exceed replacement over years, to the point where even good root systems can’t take up enough nutrients, and yields suffer. Reaching that point in most Illinois fields would take more than a year or two, but Illinois soils cannot generate enough P and K to meet the needs of high-yielding crops, so getting to that point is inevitable if the neglect continues. We can “kick the can (of nutrient replacement) down the road” for now, but that will mean having to replace ever-growing amounts of nutrients later, as grain, along with its nutrients, continues to come off the field every year.last_img read more

Ayodhya site cannot be divided: RSS

first_imgFile photo of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.Asserting that the disputed land in Ayodhya was the birthplace of Ram and could not be divided, saffron leaders including Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat on Friday said no power on earth could stop the construction of a grand temple at the site.”The land of Ram Janam Bhumi cannot be divided and the Mandir movement will reach its conclusion only with the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya,” the RSS chief said at a function here to mark the 75th birth anniversary of Yug Purush Swami Paramanand Maharaj.”It has now been established that a Ram Temple existed in Ayodhya. Majority of Hindus have been longing to see a majestic Ram temple at the site ever since the temple was demolished,” Bhagwat said.Maintaining that the temple in Ayodhya was demolished in order to demoralise the countrymen, he expressed the resolve to build a temple at the site and said it was time to begin efforts in that direction.Blaming politicians and fundamentalists for putting up hurdles in the path of the temple movement, he said, “The temple could not be constructed since spoil sport was played by fundamentalists and politicians,” he said.Speaking on the occasion, VHP General Secretary Parveen Togadia rejected the idea of a mosque at the site and said a temple will be built there with the blessings of saints.”With the blessings of saints, Ram Temple will be constructed in Ayodhya and Mosque is not acceptable,” he said.advertisementHe also demanded a total ban on cow slaughter.Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) International President Ashok Singhal, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, were among others who complimented Swami Paramanand on the occasion.”Guru-Shishya Parampara established by Swami Ram Krishna Paramhans and Swami Vivekananda is being kept up by Yug Purus Swami Paramananad Maharaj and Sadhwi Ritambhara,” said Modi.Swami Paramanand is playing a vital role in inspiring the youth towards spirituality, he said.- With PTI inputslast_img read more

Mercedes-Benz cuts down expenditure

first_imgThe German luxury car Mercedes-Benz India has decided to heavily cut down expenditure and absorb cost escalation to keep cars affordable for customers.According to reports, the company was reluctant to pass on the full extent of the price increase to customers for fear of hurting demand further. Mercedes-Benz India ‘s sales reportedly fell nearly 24 per cent to 1,633 units during April-July, compared with 2,141 units sold in the year-ago period. “The rupee has had a terrible impact on the company. We are close to catastrophic mood means we are cutting costs wherever possible, our guys are flying economy (class), we are going to cheaper hotels, we are cost cutting wherever possible,” a news report quoting Peter Honegg, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mercedes-Benz India , said.    The report said the company is forced to absorb Rs 3 of every jump of Rs 10 in prices to avoid impacting retail demand which has been under pressure. In order to counter BMW and Audis rise in volumes riding high on the back of demand for cheaper sports utility vehicles (SUVs), Mercedes is also gearing up to launch a compact SUV in 2014-15 in India.This new small SUV, which is under development presently, will be assembled in India and take on BMWs X1 and Audis Q3 (both are SUVs) priced between Rs 21-25 lakh. Besides, the German company has also opened its first showroom in Lucknow, the first such dealership by a luxury car maker in Uttar Pradesh.The luxury car maker is expanding its footprint to Tier-II cities despite facing a stiff competition from rivals BMW and Audi.The company has recently launched such dealerships in Indore (Madhya Pradesh) and Karnal (Haryana), plans to sell 50 cars by December through the Lucknow dealership, ‘Smart Hoops’, and double the sales in 2013.With Agency inputsadvertisementlast_img read more